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Money & Democracy Update: Protesters shut down street outside BGR Group HQ, super-PACs and payday loan lobby scandal

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • $6 million: How much the Nuclear Energy Institute and Exelon spent to lobby federal officials last year
  • $4.4 million: The amount both entities gave in campaign contributions to congressional candidates over the past two years

Protesters fill building where Wisconsin state senators were feted by lobbyists

When a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm flew Wisconsin state GOP senators to the nation’s capital for a fundraiser this week, the public interest community sprang into action and organized a protest. What a turnout! Protesters marched in front of the lobbying headquarters then poured into the building, packing the atrium, chanting and waving signs. Public Citizen was an event sponsor. Read our account. See the inspiring photos. Read a newspaper story about it.

Lobbyists head to the Hill

It’s a little-noted revolving door, but it is spinning wildly: Industry lobbyists are being hired by members of Congress. Once on staff, they can help write laws that are helpful to their former employers.

Groups work to stop insider trading by members of Congress, staff

Believe it or not, it’s perfectly legal for members of Congress and their staffs to get tidbits of insider information that isn’t public, trade on them and make a killing in the stock market. Five reform groups, including Public Citizen, sent a letter today urging Congress to pass a no-insider-trading bill.

Half of us are shareholders, should have right to oppose political spending

Today, nearly one in every two American households owns stocks. So “shareholders,” we are the public. Now that corporations have been given the right by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to freely spend shareholder investments in elections, they should be required to disclose their political spending, and shareholders should be granted the right to consent or oppose to that political spending.

This may help explain our energy policy …

Duke Energy Corp. is guaranteeing a $10 million line of credit for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the Charlotte Observer reports. Duke has coal-fired power plants and wants to build a new nuclear power plant in South Carolina. Are they currying favor?

‎American Crossroads to disclose less frequently

American Crossroads, a group co-founded by Republican guru Karl Rove to influence the 2010 congressional elections, is cutting back on its reporting to the government. Rather than making monthly campaign finance reports, it will send information quarterly.

New super-PAC forms to give unions more trouble

As if unions didn’t have enough trouble, now a new political action committee has formed. It’s name? Stop Unions Now. The PAC creators intend to raise unlimited money.

West Virginia’s pilot public financing program for judicial elections is struggling

Remember how West Virginia made national headlines because the CEO of coal giant Massey Energy had donated $3 million to a judge who then ruled for Massey in a case? The U.S. Supreme Court got involved in 2009 and said the judge should have recused himself. As a result, the state set up a pilot public financing program for judicial elections. But now, state lawmakers have killed a bill that would have doubled the amount of state money designated for the 2012 state Supreme Court race.

Delaware’s lobbying disclosure law doesn’t disclose much

In Delaware, lobbyists must disclose money they spend on gifts, travel and entertainment for public officials. But they don’t have to report how much lobbyists’ salaries are, how much they spend on other lobbying activities or even what bills they work on. Some are calling for change.

Payday loan industry doubles lobbying expenditures in effort to stave off new rules

The payday loan industry has more than doubled its lobbying expenditures between the last session of Congress and this one, according to a new report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. This comes as the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which can regulate payday lenders, ramps up.

Trump prepared to pour $600 million into presidential bid

We’ve seen it before: a wealthy executive finances a run for office. Donald Trump, who is mulling whether to run for president, says that if he does, he’ll pour $600 million of his own money into the race.

Visit DemocracyIsForPeople.org to learn more!